Using clay as an artistic treatment for wall space is an increasingly fashionable and innovative solution for decorators, architects and makers. Wall pieces are the perfect solution for those who enjoy sculpture but have no space; they fulfill the same function as a picture while being much more dynamic and three-dimensional. Current wall pieces vary enormously from simple tiled works to huge installations, and this book looks at the huge variety of work being made, as well as all the problems, solutions and diverse approaches to wall pieces. Wall Pieces provides an insight into the work of contemporary makers, exploring how to plan, design, make, mount and safely hang ceramic pieces. It’s also illustrated with a wide selection of original and inspiring work by contemporary ceramic artists.

 

Softcover | 128 Pages
Order code CA65 | ISBN 978-1-57498-292-3

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Pushing the boundaries
Over the last decade, the innovation and determination of ceramicists to push the boundaries of clay as well as people’s perceptions of the material has been both surprising and exciting. Wall Pieces offers inspiration for a material that’s extremely versatile, natural and beautiful. You’ll get an insight into how makers from all over the world are working with clay and the wall space in an exciting and dynamic manner. This book also provides some technical information and guidelines to help get you started in designing, creating and hanging your own wall piece.

The fascination with the decoration of a wall’s surface is not a recent concept but can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt, where they decorated their walls with stories of the gods using oxides painted directly on a surface and in some cases using ceramic tiles. Although ceramic wall pieces have evolved and changed from the use of the tile, the concept of decorating and expanding an idea, pattern and visual relief across a surface or a whole room is present throughout history and continues to this day.

 

Short history
Anne Mercedes contributes the first part of the book with an overview of what wall pieces are, and how they fit into the contemporary scene, with a look at their historical origins in other forms, and how they have evolved. More and more artists and designers working with ceramics are showing an interest in making wall pieces, and finding ways of producing large-scale work for which they may not have been trained. Achieving these projects often involves working in collaboration, so Mercedes briefly examines the practical and economic factors influencing the different forms of collaboration. The projects examined provide examples of different types of wall pieces, and highlight the social and economic developments relevant to anyone wishing to undertake projects of this kind.

 

Designing and planning

Before embarking on the making of a wall piece it’s essential to take time to plan and design your idea. Segurado provides some pointers to help you consider design issues and think about planning, as well as information on how other makers have used design planning to create a number of successful wall pieces.

 

One of the first and most important steps is to take time to consider the location, as this could have a strong influence on the starting points of the design, scale, weight and overall aesthetic. This will then influence your choice of materials and methods suitable to create your piece of work. In this way, making wall pieces involves a reversal of the usual approach, where an artist will often create a piece, and then consider how and where to display it. Wall pieces, at least for the larger works, are often location-led, and where they are to be located may dictate their design, style and atmosphere.

 

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Hanging and mounting
When making and installing wall pieces you need to consider the practical aspects of the fixings, fittings and materials. There are a number of approaches and a variety of materials available, some more obvious and easier to obtain than others, but it is important to find both a method and materials suitable for the final design. While the simplest method can be the most suitable, you’ll see several makers’ methods of hanging and their approach to installation. It is exciting to see how each maker’s approach is a unique and successful integration of their concepts and the use of clay. Materials such as glass, ceramics, wood and metal have all been used as a valuable addition to the ceramics, some acting as an additional feature or embellishment to the work, as well as a backing material, while others operate as the key support when placing ceramics on the wall. Some makers will use a material in a purely functional way to help hang the ceramic, while for others it becomes an inherent part of the work itself.

 

Projects in action
You’ll be inspired by projects that offer a valuable insight into the individual approach to space and process by several ceramicists. Understanding how other makers approach spaces can expand and develop our own practice, perhaps opening up new and exciting opportunities for us to communicate our creative ideas. The makers featured in this chapter offer a stimulating peek into some of their projects: a brief but broad overview of the project, including wherever possible, the beginning of the design process, the making and installation, up to the final outcome on the wall. All the makers featured have designed and made innovative wall pieces that respond directly to a space and their personal vision to transform it. The projects discussed vary in their approach: some are temporary, some are permanent, and the locations vary from public space to private homes. However, all reflect a personal passion to demonstrate ideas on a wall and the use of clay in a contemporary manner. All the wall pieces were designed and made for specific locations. Some locations were selected by the makers, while some pieces are in response to a given location. Designing and making work for a specific location often pushes artists’ boundaries to explore and develop new ideas. One thing all these makers have in common is that their pieces are designed and made in sections. This has given them the chance to work with a variety of scales, and in some cases other materials.

 

Innovative wall pieces
It’s fascinating to see how the creative ideas of artists combined with their vision for the space as a whole hve transformed an area or wall. Segurado offers a glimpse into the concepts and contemporary approaches these makers have toward wall space, and aims to demonstrate the wide variety. It’s the ideas behind the work that help to create an exciting use of space. Many of the projects discussed introduce a new way of thinking about clay and its interaction with wall surfaces.

 

 

The authors
Dominique Bivar Segurado
has been making ceramics since 1999 and has taught ceramics in various colleges, as well as doing an artist’s residency in Taiwan in 2005 and being selected to tour Japan in 2008 by the Arts Council.

 

Anne Mercedes was born in Paris and taught philosophy both in France and the UK before undertaking her ceramics degree in 2007 at the University of Westminster. She has been awarded associate membership at the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

 

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Review by Sumi von Dassow — Pottery Making Illustrated

This book celebrates the explosion of ceramic work made for display or installation on the wall, covering a broad range of such work, from installations consisting of small pieces glued directly to the wall, to entire sculpted walls. What you won’t find much of in this book is tile-based wall art. There are plenty of other books about tile-making and installing; evidently the author felt that other forms of wall art need our attention.

The focus of the book is on the processes of planning, designing, and installing wall work, not on the making process. The author presumes that the reader knows how to make things out of clay, or can find other books for guidance.

 

The first chapter, contributed by Anne Mercedes, covers the history of ceramic wall art, which is interesting and good background—but it is also useful for the helpful analysis of the different categories of wall pieces. Not categories as in tile, mosaic, and bas-relief but as in ceramics used to build a load-bearing wall, ceramics added to a wall to act as a decorative skin, and removable ceramic compositions hung on a wall. When you start thinking about making ceramic wall art, such categorization can really help you clarify your ideas. Are your ideas more suitable for permanent installation in a civic building—or for a gallery installation which will be taken down after a month? Before you go applying for commissions, and certainly before you dig into your bag of clay, you’ll want to answer that question.

 

So, say you decide you want to apply for a public art commission—what do you have to know? What do you have to consider in planning your proposal? That’s where chapter two, “Designing and Planning,” will be invaluable. There’s a helpful checklist of key questions to consider, including the scale of the piece whether the wall can support the weight of the ceramics and backing material. Other things to think about include what kind of surface you’re attaching your piece to, who’s going to move and install the work, and how to come up with a budget (with another helpful checklist for that).

 

Chapter three, “Hanging and Mounting,” is really the technical meat of this book. You may have a pretty good idea of what your piece will look like when installed, but no idea at all of how you are going to secure it to the wall, which is an important detail. This chapter will keep you from reinventing the wheel—somebody else has probably already figured out how to hang something similar to what you’re making, and you can learn from their experience. If your piece is not too large, you may be able to build in loops or holes on the back side. For larger work, perhaps you need to build in holes for bolts. You may need to glue your piece to another material such as plywood, glass, or metal. If you are gluing it onto a backing, what kind of glue should you use? If you need to suspend a piece, you can choose from cable, wire, string, or monofilament nylon. Segurado shares information about suitable materials for all these situations, and the solutions that various artists have come up with for works from the intimate to the monumental.

 

If you’re hankering to expand your artistic horizons, to conquer new worlds with your art, then it might be time to get your clay off of pedestals and out of cupboards and put it on the wall. In that case, this primer may be just the inspiration you need.

 

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